The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just as I suspected

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

"In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies."

"The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so."

I'm not sure how much stock I would put in this study. It's a tough thing to prove either way. There are plenty examples of secular Western Nations that have low crime/abortion/suicide/teenage pregnancy/etc. But there is only one Western nation, The U.S., that is religious. And although it does have higher rates of all of these things, it's tough to say that religion is the only factor at work. It certainlynly not the only factor at work in all of the screwed up non-Western nations. I think we should take a serious look into whether religion is worth it. It does appear to be a major problem in both the U.S. and the Third World.


  • Ah another study using a correlation to argue causation out of political motivation.

    I highly suspect that correlation may be related to people's tendency to pray for help when their life sucks or is dangerous and they don't feel like they can do anything about it.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 11:30 PM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:19 AM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:20 AM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:21 AM  

  • I pretty much agree with Scott, (and Dan to an extent) but I do think it's telling that belief without reason is more prevalent in places that are less developed, and that, in general, suck. As societies improve and reason becomes a driving force it should be no surprise that religion declines.

    I also think that the study's characterization of the US is bullshit, and probably reflects the social scientist's personal beliefs. "Developing?" This douchebag still has a queen! And a lot of unemployment.

    Dysfunctional? Explain?

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 8:31 AM  

  • I took the whole thing as more of a refutation of a common claim made by the religious right (that Religion is necessary for morality) than a posative claim in and of itself.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 9:11 AM  

  • Off topic:
    Have you read, or watched, The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell, with a younger Bill Moyers interviewing? To me, it was enlightening and I wonder what your contributors think of it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:31 AM  

  • No, but it sounds good. JIJAWM, that's a good point. It does refute that notion even if it is just a correlation.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 10:13 AM  

  • Hey first time poster here. I think everyone should watch the Bill Moyers series with Joseph Campbell. I've seen it maybe 10 times.

    The most fascinating thing, in my opinion, that Campbell talked about was that the same "stories" appear in almost every religion. This stems from the commonality of the human experience. People grapple with the same moral issues and dilemnas everywhere and always have.

    Anyway, people get into trouble when they follow the letter of the "law" while ignoring the "spirit." Too much religion, not enough spirituality if you ask me.

    By Blogger Gypsy Rose, at 12:15 PM  

  • Hi Gypsy (via Ace's place, I assume)

    Thanks for stopping by. Assuming one can do so, I'll have to get that off of netflix sometime, although I must admit that Moyers bugs me.

    My college did not offer minors, but I probably took enough religious studies courses to qualify for a minor. I find the subject fascinating.

    The most obvious parrellel is the Pandora's Box/Garden of Eden story. I mean, it's so obvious.
    And of course, there are a ton of others. I might have to write a post on that some time. After I watch the series.

    I think it's more than just commonality of experience. I think these stories traveled pretty well back in the day too.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 1:01 PM  

  • Yeah. It's possible that the stories traveled instead of springing up organically. Either way they resonated with people and stuck in all kinds of cultures. Interesting.

    By Blogger Gypsy Rose, at 2:52 PM  

  • The Moyers interview does sound worth checking out.
    I've always sort of thought that similarity of stories should almost be expected based on religions all having similar purposes in society and what gypsy rose said.

    Also, pointing out the similarity of stories ignores the many differences.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 4:51 PM  

  • I found the actual study online. I link to it here if you are interested:

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 7:46 PM  

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